A former Clinton ambassador turned political consultant had a major hand in pushing the Iran nuclear deal while simultaneously taking money from Boeing — the airplane manufacturer that just signed a landmark $25 billion deal to sell aircraft to the Islamic Republic.
Amb. Thomas Pickering had a storied career as the U.S. ambassador to both the United Nations and Israel under the Clinton administration. After leaving office, he worked with Boeing as both an employee and consultant. He was also one of the most vocal proponents of last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran, which removed the sanctions that allowed Boeing to secure the deal.
As Pickering pushed for the deal by meeting with key Congressional members, testifying to congressional committees and penning op-eds, he did not disclose the fact that he was still on the Boeing payroll.
“I was a Boeing employee from 1/2001 to 6/2006,” Pickering told The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff over email. “I was a direct consultant to Boeing from 7/2006 until 12/2015 when contract for consulting was moved to Hills for my work.”
“Hills” is Hills & Company International Consultants, where Pickering is a principal.
Pickering did not answer Woodruff’s follow-up email asking if he disclosed his contract with Boeing when pushing for the Iran nuclear deal with Congress.
Prior to the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, sanctions made it impossible for U.S. companies to do business with the Islamic Republic. With most sanctions now lifted, U.S. and other Western companies are clamoring to do business with the newly opened Iranian market.
Pickering was a major influence in securing the deal’s support during and after negotiations. He testified before the House Armed Services Committee in June 2014 on the need for a nuclear deal with Iran, a full year before the deal would be agreed upon. Pickering did not disclose his ties to Boeing on his disclosure paperwork, nor is a link to his company included in his biography on file with the House.
Pickering would later sign a letter to congressional leaders on July 7, 2015, encouraging them to support the deal. Again, Pickering did not note his connection to Boeing. Nor did he mention his connection to the company in two op-eds he wrote supporting the deal in the Washington Post and Tablet.
Boeing has denied that it engaged in any lobbying direct lobbying for the Iran nuclear deal, despite the fact that it procured the services of the Monument Policy Group LLC, a government relations firm, to work on “U.S.-Iran Relations.”
“Monument Policy Group passively monitored congressional debate on the nuclear agreement for Boeing, but did not engage congressional offices on the agreement,” Neal told the Daily Beast. “Our own lobbying activity in Q4 was in response to questions we were getting about the potential for airplane sales to Iran, plus misconceptions about the potential for Ex-Im Bank financing of such sales, which we felt were important to correct.”
The Islamic Republic prioritized upgrading its archaic airliners before the nuclear deal was even inked. Sanctions on aircraft and aircraft parts since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 have forced the country to continue to use aircraft that are nearly 30 years old.
Boeing competitor Airbus secured a $25 billion deal with the Islamic Republic in January that will provide the country with 118 new aircraft.
Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois acknowledged Boeing’s business opportunity, but has been a vocal critic of the transaction due to concerns that the state-owned Iran Air will utilized the new aircraft for terrorism purposes.
“Boeing says it must go wherever Airbus goes,” wrote Roskam in an op-ed for USA Today. “But history is a merciless disciplinarian to those who make themselves complicit in evil because ‘someone else was doing it.'”
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